Shore Excursion: Travel Guide to Gran Canaria


Gran Canaria is one of the islands in the Canary Isles, a Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of mainland Africa. The capital city is Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which is also the co-capital of the Canary Islands, along with Santa Cruz in Tenerife.

For a small taste of Gran Canaria, Las Palmas is ideal because you can pack in many sights in a short space of time. Whether you’re looking for museums, galleries, charming neighbourhoods, or of course the beaches, Las Palmas has them.

Best of all, Las Palmas enjoys one of the best subtropical climates in the world, with constant mild to warm temperatures throughout the year. And since you are almost guaranteed nice weather when visiting Las Palmas during your Mediterranean cruise, the big question on your lips must be: what should you do?

Take the Hop-on & Hop-off Bus Tour

Las Canteras Beach, Gran Canaria. Flickr Creative Commons:El Coleccionista de Instantes

This double-decker tour is the best way to see the city of Las Palmas, as it’s not only a fascinating trip but also convenient and flexible. You can travel at your own pace, setting your own itinerary. We recommend doing the whole circuit first and later deciding which place you want to go back and spend more time in.

For either 24 or 48 hours you can hop on and off any stop en route, or just stay on the bus for the entire trip to enjoy a unique view of the city. Some of the recommended hop-off spots include Las Canteras Beach, the shopping areas in Las Arenas, or Paseo de la Cornisa for a pleasant walk along the water’s edge.

Stroll around La Vegueta

La Vegueta, Gran Canaria. Flickr Creative Commons: Ricardo SB

La Vegueta is the old town and the historic centre of Las Palmas. As such, you can walk down the streets and take yourself back to 500 years ago when Christopher Columbus visited to plot his New World adventures.

For architectural enthusiasts, at the heart of the town is the Santa Ana Cathedral, the first church in the Canaries. Because it was completed over four centuries ago, you can see different architectural styles from the Gothic, Renaissance, and Neoclassical periods.

When you are tired of walking around, you can rest your feet at the Plaza de Santa Ana, adorned with cafes, shops and dog statues!

The neighbourhoods of La Vegueta, along with the district of Triana, were designated a World Heritage Site in 2007.

Relax at Las Canteras Beach

Las Canteras Beach (Playa de Las Canteras) is a stylish, and one of the most famous beaches on Gran Canaria. It stretches for approximately 3.1 km, and for its environmental management efforts, the beach received ISO 14000 certification. With exceptionally clean water and warm sand, it’s a perfect place to relax if you need a break from your busy itinerary.

Got More than One Day?

Nature walk in Gran Canaria. Flickr Creative Commons: blinking idiot

If you have more than one day, head out of Las Palmas and explore the rest of Gran Canaria, like playing taking in the epic sand dunes at Maspalomas, visiting the volcanic caldera of Bandama, or walking in the island’s two nature parks.

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Images sourced via Royal Caribbean Press Center and Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: El Coleccionista de Instantes, Ricardo SB, blinking idiot


About Author

Sandra Conreen

Sandra has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years and has gained an extensive knowledge of the cruise industry. Sandra regularly writes for the Cruise 1st blog on a wide range of topics from destination guides to cruise line news.

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